Chef James Kent of Crown Shy - Biography

New York, NY

December 2020

When James Kent was 14 years old, Chef David Bouley moved into his Greenwich Village building. As Kent was already working as a line cook at Pietrasanta, his mother made him knock on Bouley’s door, introduce himself, and ask to spend time in his kitchen. Remarkably, Bouley said yes. In the summer of 1993, Kent began a summer apprenticeship at Bouley, where he got to witness the ’90s New York culinary renaissance.

Kent studied food service management, culinary arts and marketing at Johnson & Wales University and attended a study abroad program at Le Cordon Bleu in London and France. When he returned, he’d earned enough of a pedigree to get hired at Babbo (2001), Jean-Georges (2003) and Eleven Madison Park (2017), where he met his own mentor, Daniel Humm, another Rising Stars Mentor Award winner. 

In 2010, Kent won the Bocuse d’Or USA Competition, making him the United States’ representative to the main event in Lyon. He placed 10th in the world. Three years later, Humm and Will Guidara, whom Kent said were “like long-lost brothers,” offered him the executive chef position at Michelin-starred The Nomad. In 2019, he and Restaurateur Jeff Katz opened their first solo project, Crown Shy, where Kent is able to continue to mentor talent.